Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The 20 for $40 re-wrap: 1997 Score Series Two Hobby Reserve

1997 Score Series Two Hobby Reserve. That's a mouthful, huh?

So what the hell is this "Hobby Reserve" anyway?

In 1997 Pinnacle Brands reconfigured their base brand Score into two separate, but similar, sets: The retail-exclusive Score, and Hobby Reserve -- which as the name suggests, was Hobby only.

Hobby Reserve is a "parallel brand," similar in concept to Bowman Chrome. Hobby Reserve has the same design as retail Score, and the same 551-card checklist. The only difference was that Hobby Reserve -- known as "Premium Stock" in the first series -- was printed on thicker card stock and hit with a gold foil stamp. There were also inserts that were exclusive to each pack type.

(Sorry, no video today.)

Base

One thing that rocked about mid-90s Score, was that the reverse sides were chock-full of text and stats. (They had fielding stats, for Christ's sake!) To share with you the awesomeness of 1997 Score's backs, here are the reverse sides of each card.

Roberto Kelly
"Roberto delivered a .323 average in his first season with the Twins. A one-time 20-20 man who's been an All-Star in both leagues, Roberto first reached the majors with the '87 Yankees after establishing a reputation as a minor-league speed merchant. After stealing 51 bases for AAA Columbus, he produced a 42-steal season in the Bronx. He's played for five teams since."

Terry Steinbach
"Terry set an AL record last season with 34 home runs as a catcher. He also became the first Athletics' catcher with 100 RBI since Mickey Cochrane in 1932. With 35 homers last year, Terry more than doubled his previous best in that department. He batted .308 with runners in scoring position and .450 with the bases loaded, increasing his career mark in that category to .369."

Mariano Rivera (Rock and Fire)
"Mariano allowed just a .189 BA and 9.1 baserunners per nine innings in 1996, earning the closer's role in New York with John Wetteland's departure."

Ivan Rodriguez (True Grit)
"Pudge led the AL in innings caught (1,222.2) and threw out a career-best 49 percent of baserunners in '96 to win his fifth consecutive Gold Glove. Still just 25, he's still improving, particularly offensively. He also had career bests with 19 homers and 86 RBI last season."

Bubba Trammell (Rookie)
"Bubba, who led Tennessee to an SEC championship as a senior in '94, could be the next great Trammell in the Tigers' lineup. He batted .316 with 33 HR and 99 RBI between Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Toledo in '96 and was named the Best Power Prospect in the Southern League in Baseball America's annual managers poll. He was an 11th-round pick in '94 and his exceptional power surfaced with Class-A Lakeland in 1995 when he drilled 16 homers. Already 25, the Tigers took a long look at him this spring and he impressed them with his power and patience. In addition to batting .304 with three homers and 17 RBI, he also drew a team-leading 14 walks in the Grapefruit League."

Graeme Lloyd
"Graeme, a 6-foot-7, left-handed throwing Aussie with a big, rainbow curveball, won the hearts of Yankees fans the hard way in 1996. He started off with a rocky West Coast road trip after the August 23 trade that brought him from Milwaukee and finished up with clutch, late-inning effectiveness in the postseason for the World Series champions. Graeme is the kind of pitcher managers like to use in late innings to get one or two left-handed batters out. Over his career, he's been most effective against left-handers (.221 BA) and although he can be used often, he's noticeably better with at least one day of rest between appearances."

Randy Johnson (R&F)
"Randy is a terrifying sight to hitters with his 6' 10" frame and 100-mph heat. The Mariners have won 38 of the last 43 games the `Big Unit' has started."

Dave Martinez
"Because his average has risen three years in a row, Dave reached a personal peak in games played last summer (146). Highly-regarded for his defensive skills, Dave plays all three outfield positions and first base. He's even made two mop-up pitching appearances. Dave began his career after the Cubs drafted him off the campus of Valencia (Fla.) Community College."

Scott Rolen (RC)
"After streaking through the upper minors last season, Scott was practically handed the starting third-base job in Philadelphia. Baseball America later named him the club's top prospect, while Eastern League pilots picked him as the No. 2 prospect and best third baseman in that Double-A circuit. He made his big-league bow August 1 and hit his first homer vs. Hideo Nomo during a two-homer game Aug. 21. He had two three-hit games, a four-RBI game, and a .325 average in his first 23 NL contests. Scott still qualifies as a rookie because he did not exceed 130 at-bats. (Ed. Note: He had exactly 130 ABs in 1996) He was the Phillies' second-round amateur draft choice in June 1993."

Glendon Rusch (RC)
"Some prospects need adjustment time as they move from level to level. Not Glendon. A 17th-round draft in June 1993 out of a Seattle high school, he overmatched the competition at every level on the way to Kansas City this year, where in his MLB debut on April 6 he allowed just four hits in eight innings, retiring 19 consecutive Twins in one stretch. He first caused a stir in 1994 with only a two-out, seventh-inning walk kept him from throwing a perfect game against Kane County in the Class-A Midwest League. He skipped Double-A ball last season and posted an 11-9 record for Triple-A Omaha in the American Association, whose managers rated him the league's best pitching prospect in Baseball America's midseason poll."

Edgardo Alfonzo
"Edgar started at three different positions for the 1996 Mets: 56 times at second, 21 at third, and eight at shortstop, his original spot. He knocked in six runs in five games from July 23-29. He's had a four-RBI game and two four-hit games during his two-year career in the majors. Edgardo's first big-league homer was an inside-the-park shot vs. Cincinnati's Matt Grott on May 6, 1995. Always considered a good hitter, Edgardo hit .312 over his final 44 games last season. He then hit .340 in the Venezuelan Winter League. He was second in both the league batting chase and its MVP voting. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 1991."

Ryan Klesko(TG)
"Ryan, who turned 26 in June, got 500-plus at-bats for the first time last season and led the NL champions with 34 homers while placing third on the team with 93 RBI. A power specialist, he sits on fastballs and gets plenty of loft in his swing."

Rusty Greer (TG)
"Rusty has endeared himself to Texas fans with his competitive nature, clutch hitting and diving catches. He also hits left-handers almost as well as he does right-handers, against whom he batted a sixth-in-the-AL .337 in '96."

Norm Charlton
"Norm led the '96 Mariners in saves (20) and games finished (50) while working a career-high 70 times. He ranked second on Seattle's lifetime saves list (52) when the 1997 campaign opened. He's especially tough on left-handed hitters, who managed a .187 average against him last year. IN his final 23 games of the '96 season, Norm posted a 1.63 ERA. An All-American at Rice, he graduated with a triple major in political science, religion, and physical education."

Ariel Prieto
"The Athletics were encouraged by Ariel's strong finish last fall. While splitting eight decisions over his final 12 starts, the hard-throwing Havana native held hitters to a .248 batting average and recorded a compact 3.08 ERA. The former first-round draft choice (1995) is best in the clutch: with two outs and runners in scoring position last year, he held AL hitters to a .170 average. A member of the Cuban National Team from 1990-94, Ariel had a 20-strikeout game, an 11-0 mark in international play, and a nine-inning average of 9.3 strikeouts, third best in Cuban history. He holds a physical education degree from Cuba's Fajardo University."

3 comments:

suterb said...

1997 Score has to be one of my all-time favorite sets, although I didn't really start collecting it until Series 2 came out. I practically have the whole set of that series.

Mike S said...

Rusty Greer AND Edgardo Alfonzo? Now that's a winning pack.

Mr. Schwartz said...

Score never got credit for having excellent backs on all their cards, from their first year til the end for them. Always a good write up on the back and in 88, they were the first to have full colored backs as well.